close up of a woman's thigh in white shorts displaying fat on her thigh

Cellulite is very common, especially in women. In fact, 85% of women have cellulite. In most cases, cellulite is unrelated to your weight, diet, or lifestyle. While it is not harmful, cellulite can be a major cause of insecurity, and there is no clear cut answer regarding how to eliminate cellulite naturally.

Cellulite is caused by an interaction between septae – fibrous bands that connect your skin with tissue and muscle — the underlying fat and skin. Because cellulite is caused by three different factors (collagen irregularity in the skin, uneven tension from fibrous septae, and the fat pockets between) it can be very difficult to correct by fat loss alone. This means cellulite is notoriously difficult to address with lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise. Even those at a healthy weight often experience unwanted cellulite in areas like the stomach, thighs, and arms.

The good news is, there are many forms of aesthetic medicine and plastic surgery that can reduce cellulite. Below, we will go over some of the most common treatments options.

Radiofrequency Treatments To Improve Cellulite

Non-invasive radio frequency treatments use controlled radio waves to heat the collagen in the skin causing them to retract and remodel leaving a smoother contour. Treatment can be done on multiple areas of the body, including areas prone to cellulite like the thighs and abdomen.

During treatment, your practitioner runs a handheld device over the treatment area. The process is not painful and usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour. You can resume regular activities directly after treatment. 

Some radio frequency treatments require only one or two sessions to be effective, but most require multiple treatments. Expect your results to appear gradually over the course of three to four months. Results are semi-permanent – meaning you will age out of the results as opposed to the results wearing off – so many patients get booster therapies within a year.

Ultrasound Therapy To Improve Cellulite

Ultrasound therapy (specifically high intensity focused ultrasound or HIFU) stimulates collagen production by sending sound waves deep into the skin and fibrous septae. This reduces sagging and creates tighter, younger-looking skin. As a result, cellulite becomes less apparent.

During treatment, your practitioner applies a handheld device to the treatment area. Times vary, but usually the whole process takes no more than an hour. You can resume regular activities immediately following treatment.

Some patients only need a single session to see improvement, but more severe cases may take five to six sessions to treat. Results are semi-permanent, so many patients get repeat treatments within one to two years.

Radio Frequency Microneedling Treatments

During RF microneedling, your practitioner inserts small needles throughout the skin’s surface at a rapid pace. Your body stimulates collagen production in response to these tiny wounds, and heat generated by RF energy, smoothing out the skin. This can reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and cellulite.

The majority of RF microneedling treatments do not come with any recovery period, but more advanced treatments – like Profound – may require a week or more of downtime. However, more intense treatments do yield more dramatic results.

Coherent and Non-Coherent Light Therapies

Coherent light therapy refers to lasers and non-coherent light therapy refers to all other types of light therapies which includes IPL and LED light therapies.

Laser therapies that can improve cellulite includes any laser that can cause some skin remodeling. The most effective non-invasive therapies we offer include various fractionated and non-ablative lasers such as Nordyls Frax. Non-coherent light therapies such as IPL can also help tighten the skin which will reduce the appearance of cellulite. Red and near infrared light therapy such as provided by Celluma have been shown to cause some improve collagen reorganization, decreased inflammation, and minor fat reduction, all of which can improve the appearance of cellulite.

Subcision Technique

This technique involves the release of the fibrous septae directly beneath specific dimples. This is equivalent to Cellfina, but is directed by the practitioner and not by the device. The releases of the fibrous septae releases the tension on the dimples and therefore improves the appearance of cellulite.

The skin directly over a dimple is injected with numbing medicine and an 18-gauge needle is inserted under the skin and used in a sweeping motion to release the specific fibrous septae causing the dimple. Results can be appreciated immediately and the treatment is pain free, however patients can experience some bruising and swelling.


Quo functions very similarly to subcision, however it does it chemically. Quo consists of an enzyme called Collagenase, which breaks down collagen type 1 and 3. This causes specific fibrous septae to release effectively treating the dimples that they can cause.

The enzyme is injected directly into offending dimples and the results can often be seen within hours. The treatment is not painful, however, one may develop a bruise at the treatment site.

Can Liposuction Reduce Cellulite?

When asking how to treat cellulite, patients often ask whether liposuction is a viable option. This procedure is not designed with cellulite in mind and liposuction can sometimes result in skin sagging. This can potentially make the dimpling associated with cellulite worse.

There are some energy technologies that can be employed at the same time as liposuction is performed that can improve skin laxity and the appearance of cellulite.

Plastic Surgery To Improve Cellulite: The Bottom Line

Weight loss, a healthy diet, and exercises like strength training all play a role in reducing the appearance of cellulite. However, many patients hit a plateau with natural methods.

There are many non-invasive treatment options with minimal recovery time that can dramatically reduce the appearance of cellulite. A consultation with a qualified medical professional can help you determine the right treatment path for you.

Ready to get started? Leif Rogers is an Ivy League-educated, board-certified plastic surgeon and a standing member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. If you’re considering cellulite treatment, get in touch with his team to schedule a consultation.

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